When I started reading some light summer “beach books” there were some noticeable trends. Earlier, I wrote a post about those that focused on weddings and romance (Summer Wedding Reads), but then I hit a couple that focused on the opposite – divorce and the ending of marriage. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the happy endings went away….
Successful blogger and lifestyle star Grace Stanton catches her husband cheating on her with her assistant and promptly drives his expensive sports car into their swimming pool. She finds herself locked out of her palatial home, her bank accounts, and even her blog, forcing her to move in with her widowed mother above her rundown bar. To make matters worse, the judge forces her to attend divorce counseling with an unstable counselor. When the counselor’s behavior becomes increasingly odd, Grace and the other members of the group head to her mother’s bar for their own “therapy” sessions. While they spend time together in the bar, they begin to help each other with their betrayals and Grace begins to develop a relationship with Wyatt, the one lone male in the group (who didn’t see that coming?!).
It took me awhile, but I did like Grace once she got past being a spineless spoiled brat. Her efforts to renovate a house and her relationship with her mother were entertaining. The relationship with Wyatt, while too soon and unrealistic, was still sweet. Her career as a blogger and multimedia celebrity was timely and interesting. However, I simply could not connect with the other members of her therapy group. Their personalities were not well formed (other than their vengeful acts which would have landed most people in jail) and the connections did not feel real. The mystery surrounding the divorce counselor seemed oddly thrown in and really didn’t add anything to the story.
Overall, it was a quick beach read, not awful, but not amazing.
Title: Ladies’ Night
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, June 2013
Leslie Carter is the last original wife. All of her husband’s friends have moved on to newer (and much younger) models than the original. No longer are evenings at the club an enjoyable time to catch up with her old friends, now she just sits back in horror at the new wives and their antics, feeling old and out of place. To make matters worse, she recently had an accident while in Ireland. Not only did Wes (her husband), not realize she was missing for some time, he then left her in a hospital with a concussion and broken bones. Why? He had a tee time to make! Throw in a couple of rotten kids, using their parents as babysitters and as a bank, and Leslie has had enough! Throwing a few things into a suitcase she heads to spend some time with her brother at his home in Charleston.
While in Charleston, she reconnects with a high school sweetheart, but does not use him as the solution to her problems, instead taking the time to focus on herself. Wes is not evil, just oblivious and incredibly self-absorbed. Leslie and Wes embark on therapy, giving us a look into the inner thoughts of each, and there are moments where Wes is almost likable, but what he wants most is for things to go back to the way they were and what Leslie needs most is for them to change.
Overall, it was a quick and enjoyable read, not as much of a southern flavor as in her previous novels, but still enough to add charm. Her interactions with her family once she got tough were entertaining; the whole lot of them seemed entirely clueless. I loved her relationship with her brother and her journey to self-awareness, although I never found the old beau entirely convincing.
Title: The Last Original Wife
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Publication: William Morrow, June 2013